At the beginning of November I challenged myself in Physical and Mental Challenges for November, to run in a 5k by the end of the month…on Thanksgiving, to be exact. Well, I entered, I was there, and I did the distance and finished the race. I cannot say I actually ran much of it, but I did make it, despite a few minor set-backs.
I did not properly train for the 5k, despite my best intentions and a lot of effort. I just didn’t know what I was doing! I trained on the treadmill up until two weeks before the race, building up to 5.6 miles per hour for a half-hour every other day. My plan had been to build that up to 6 miles per hour and then take my act on the road, but I ran out of time. Still, I thought that I was already going 10 minutes and 43 seconds per mile, so even walking I should finish the 5k in about 33 minutes.
That first day, I learned just how wrong I’d been about running, which I wrote about in And I Ran…I Ran So Far Away!. A friend sent me a link to the website for C25K, which stands for Couch to 5K…a laudable goal! According to the website, I was doing the right thing with my run/walk method, but I needed another 7 or 8 weeks of training three times a week to actually run a 5k. So much for my Thanksgiving race dreams!
I kept it up, even as the temperature dropped and I had to run in the dark before work. One day it was so cold, that despite a proper warm-up and proper attire, my muscles stiffened up and I walked more than I ran and ended up short-circuiting my route at the half-way point.
As the day of the race dawned, or rather before it dawned, I was up eating breakfast and preparing for the race. My husband and older daughter and I piled into the car and drove downtown. The radio was tuned to the race-day commentary and I was nervous and excited to think about being part of it. The announcer told us that 21,000 runners and walkers were registered for the race. Oh my! On the one hand, I thought, well at least no one will notice me in that crowd…I will just blend in. Then he mentioned that it is the most watched of any foot race in the US. Just great.
We parked about a mile from the race and walked quickly to the convention center. It was cold, only 34 degrees…as cold as the day I’d had to cut my training short. My warm-up at home had already worn off. A mist was shrouding the skyscrapers in what could have made for a gloomy morning, but the city was so vibrant at 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Music was pulsing through the downtown and people were everywhere. Many people were in costumes and there were serious runners but also families with children, dogs, dogs in costumes, and runners with babies in running strollers.
My daughter and I positioned ourselves in the race and my husband moved on ahead to the first wave of runners. The 5k and 10k are run simultaneously and he was running the 10k. I’d already laughed that he and I would finish around the same time. Sad, but it turned out to be true. I tried to warm my muscles up a bit, but we were crammed body-to-body in the crowd. Then, we were off. My daughter was soon out of sight in the crowd ahead. I kept running. Pretty soon two floats, being pulled by costumed runners passed me by.
The main theme of the race for me was all the runners who passed me by. I walked more than in my training runs and that compounded to make my muscles even stiffer with the cold, but I pressed on. Early on in my first walking stretch, a young woman ran by me and without pausing or turning dropped this nugget on my head: “Why did you start there?” Yes, why indeed. But, I wasn’t in anyone’s way and it was none of her business that I’d set myself an unreasonable goal out of sheer ignorance.
I kept at it and actually ran more as I got through the race than I had in the beginning. I enjoyed all the costumes, a ketchup bottle running with a mustard bottle and their dog in a hot-dog costume, many Santas, a plethora of turkeys, some “cooked” birds as hats and many more full-body turkey costumes. Elves were plentiful, a couple of native Americans running in loin cloths, a group of “naked” Santas running in skin-colored body suits and red and white loin-cloths (not sure what it is with the loin cloths…), a couple of court jesters, ballerinas, clowns, characters from Dr. Seuss, and too many others to mention. All of these passed me by.
Eventually, the runners from the third wave passed me, then even some walkers who had picked up their pace and done some running. Children, mostly urged on by a parent, passed me. I kept on and on and on…and got to where I thought the race ended, but it continued around a last loop before the end . At that point, two girls, about 8 years old, ran past me and turned to me. Their faces were furrowed with worry and they asked me, how much further they had to go. About a half-mile I told them. About a half-mile they echoed back, then their faces smoothed out and off they ran and I lost them in the crowd. Well, at least, I thought, I still emit some sort of mom-ness that can bring relief to two small girls and help them finish the race!
As I ran past the finish line 43 minutes after I started, I felt energized and exhausted. I was proud of myself for finishing, and disappointed that I had so misunderstood the training process. I still want to continue my training and run an entire 5k without walking. Meanwhile, I’m taking my training back to the treadmill unless we get a rare day over 45 degrees between now and my next race.
Find the Joy in the Journey, and don’t let the Turkey’s get you down!
Physical and Mental Challenges for November
And I Ran…I Ran So Far Away!